Bradford-on-Avon 1st XV v Minety 1st XV

Saturday 26 October 2013

Dorset & Wilts Division 1

Minety weather the storm

Bradford-on-Avon 1st XV 28pts – Minety 1st XV 32pts

On a blustery afternoon, Minety weathered a tough challenge from Bradford-on-Avon to wind up winners in a game where the lead changed several times.

Quick hands, an outside break, a touchline run and a string of hand-offs saw Matt Roberts open the scoring for Minety with a try inside five minutes.

The two teams then exchanged penalty goals before Minety conceded a penalty under their own posts. Bradford responded quickly and went over for an unconverted try.

Back in their opponents’ 22, Minety set up a driving maul which took them within touching distance of the line. Out came the ball to Tom Fitzcharles, who dotted down for a try in the corner.

Bradford came storming back from the restart and although the visitors had ample opportunity to clear their line, they foolishly kept the ball in hand. Bradford took possession and a prolonged passage of play led to a fine score under the posts. The conversion gave the home side a 15 – 13 lead at half-time.

With the wind at their backs after the break, Bradford soon kicked a penalty goal to extend their lead.

Running into a stiff breeze, Minety countered by attacking from deep. A string of passes between forwards and backs moved play the length of the field and set up Steve Brown to go over for the first of his two tries.

Fitzcharles kicked the conversion to put Minety ahead again, but slack defence and non-existent tackling allowed Bradford to regain the lead with a converted try.

Three minutes later, the hosts extended their lead with a penalty goal to make it 28-20.

The final 20 minutes was a thrilling affair. Under the watchful eye of England legend Lewis Moody, who has been coaching Bradford, it was Minety who finished the stronger. Brown’s try after a charge down the length of the field set up a conversion for Fitzcharles which took them within a single point of the hosts.

Minety then repeated the feat, with Roberts’ second try finally regaining them the lead.

Bradford threw everything they had at the visitors in the final 10 minutes, but Minety hung on for a rare away win over their arch rivals.

–O-O–

That was the “official” version of the match report, based on an account by Minety club coach Huw Jones. Here’s how try-scorer Tom Fitzcharles saw it:

Minety firsts won a tough away victory against Bradford on Avon on Saturday 28-32. According to Minety club legend Dave Peirce, this is their first win away to Bradford in living memory. Minety opened the scoring with a try from outside centre Matt Roberts scorching away from the BoA 10 metre line to dot down in the left-hand corner. The conversion was missed. Nil-5 to Minety. Bradford-on-Avon replied with a penalty goal. Shortly afterwards, following good play from the away side, an infringement from a Bradford player offered Minety the opportunity to stretch the lead with a penalty, which scrumhalf Tom Fitzcharles slotted to make it 3-8. Bradford fought back, however, with a try of their own from a catch-and-drive off a lineout. That brought the scores level at 8-8 after the opening 10 minutes of the match. Minety’s forwards were dominant throughout the tight exchanges and were at the heart of things leading to Minety’s second try of the game. Flyhalf Phil Stephens opted to kick a penalty into the corner and the forwards executed a well-worked catch-and-drive of their own. Just as the rolling maul reached the line, Tom Fitzcharles nipped off the back of the maul and dived over to score in the right-hand corner. He missed the subsequent conversion, however, leaving Minety with a 8-13 lead. Bradford-on-Avon scored a try just before half time, capitalising on a disorganised defence after a breathless multiple phase play, where possession changed hands between both teams until, finally, Bradford-on-Avon’s winger sprinted in across the line. The conversion was successful, giving Bradford a two-point lead, 15-13, at half time. Minety were put under immediate pressure early in the second half as Bradford added a penalty goal to extend their lead. But the visitors responded in the perfect way with a neat try from openside flanker Steve Brown, a constant menace for Bradford and Minety’s most consistent performer so far this season. Powering his way through defenders, Brown eventually crossed the line with the help of Craig Smith, who drove his team mate over for the score. Fitzcharles’ conversion now made it 18-20 in Minety’s favour. Bradford came back with a converted try from one of their centres, regaining the lead 25-20. Minety had a player sin-binned for tackling a man without the ball, from which Bradford capitalised with a penalty goal to to increase their lead to 28-20. Minety struck back in style to finish off the game the strongest with two well-worked tries, starting with a clearance kick out of his 22 from Tom Fitzcharles, who gathered the ball after a lucky bounce. He moved it wide to Phil Stephens, whose slick interplay with Dale Langdown led to Matt Roberts scorching in for his second try, and Minety’s fourth for the bonus point, in the top left-hand corner. Fitzcharles slotted the conversion, making it 28-27. Bradford-on-Avon’s replacement scrum half was given a red card for striking his opposite number, which put the home side under further pressure for the final few minutes of the game. Sensing blood, Minety closed in for kill… Steve Brown’s second try, and Minety’s fifth, started with Duncan Simpson and Robin Greenway running neat lines to burst through Bradford-on-Avon’s stretched defence. Following some crisp offloads out of the tackle to players following in support, Brown finished off the move of the match by dotting down just under the posts. Fitzcharles converted to make it 28-32, which it remained until the referee blew his whistle to signal the first ever victory away to Bradford-on-Avon for the men in green and purple. This result means that Minety remain second in the league following their fourth bonus-point victory in a row.

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